In a significant blow to former President Donald Trump’s legal efforts, Judge Tanya Chutkan has denied two motions seeking to dismiss the criminal case against him in Washington, D.C. Trump faces charges stemming from his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Central to Trump’s defense strategy was the claim of presidential immunity, asserting that his actions as President fall outside the purview of criminal prosecution. However, Judge Chutkan firmly rejected this argument, stating that “The Constitution’s text, structure, and history do not support that contention.”
In her ruling, Chutkan emphasized that no individual, including the President, is above the law. “Whatever immunities a sitting President may enjoy,” she wrote, “the United States has only one Chief Executive at a time, and that position does not confer a lifelong ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ pass.”
Trump’s defense also attempted to invoke First Amendment protections, arguing that his actions were shielded by the right to free speech. However, Judge Chutkan dismissed this claim as well, noting that “the First Amendment does not protect speech that is used as an instrument of a crime.”
Special Counsel Jack Smith is leading the prosecution against Trump, charging him with four counts related to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. Smith’s investigation centers on Trump’s efforts to pressure state officials to overturn the 2020 election results, despite his loss to then-candidate Joe Biden.
In addition to the D.C. charges, Trump also faces prosecution in Florida for his handling of classified government documents after leaving office. Special Counsel Smith is overseeing both cases.
Judge Chutkan’s denial of Trump’s motions represents a major setback for the former President’s legal defense. As the criminal proceedings move forward, Trump will face significant legal challenges in his attempts to avoid accountability for his actions.